BERLIN Swedish furniture giant Ikea will release a report this week addressing claims it benefited from forced labor in communist East Germany, the company and victims groups said Monday.
The report by independent auditors Ernst & Young looks into allegations that Ikea used East German suppliers who employed prisoners — some of whom were political dissidents — to manufacture goods for its stores from the 1960s to 1980s.
“We hope this will be a first step toward a broader investigation into the use of forced labor in East Germany,” Rainer Wagner, chairman of the victims’ group UOKG, said.
“Ikea is only the tip of the iceberg,” he said, noting that similar allegations have been leveled against West Germany mail order companies and former state-owned East German companies that were privatized after unification in 1990.
Wagner, who was himself imprisoned by East German authorities in the 1960s, praised Ikea for acting quickly on the allegations.
The company declined to discuss the findings ahead of Friday’s release of the report, which was commissioned after a Swedish television documentary in June repeated claims first aired in Germany last year. But spokesman Sabine Nold said Ikea took the allegations very seriously and strongly condemned any use of forced labor.